A friend brought me to a screening of “The Room”, a terrible movie, this generation’s Rocky Horror Picture Show, with audience participation and spoon throwing, but no Time Warp, and really: I liked Rocky Horror. And I liked “The Room” too. The experience was really fun. This is not boringly bad, but confusingly bad and often hilariously bad. It made me want to know more, and I did do quite a bit of web surfing, and now… as the movie, The Disaster Artist, is soon to hit the screens, I read the book that the movie is based on.
It’s compelling stuff, and in some ways, quite a sweet story, a behind the scenes guide to how the film was made, how the mysterious Tommy Wiseau came to make it, a hilarious cast of characters caught in the action, and an oddball friendship. I think you’d have to know the movie to enjoy the book, and Sestero and his co-writer have structured an engaging narrative, scenes from making the money interspersed with Sestero’s first meetings with Wiseau, and their developing relationship.
It made me sad though. There’s enough honesty and self-awareness in the book to show Wiseau’s dark side, and it makes me less inclined to find the movie as funny. For example, in the movie, the scenes of the characters tossing around a football is so incongruous, so jarring, that they made me laugh in a confused way. But learning how lonely Wiseau is, and that those scenes are most likely Wiseau’s fantasies about being young, having friends and doing something American like tossing a ball around, makes me squirm. Better to have left it a mystery, like the endless source of Wiseau’s money used to make and promote the film. One part of me really wants to know, but I’m sure if I found it, I’d find it a disappointment.